What Is Offset Loading? - The Muscle PhD

What Is Offset Loading?

We’ve always talked about the importance of never letting get your body too comfortable in any given exercise. Some of the techniques for creating variety we suggested were to change your posture in exercises or make it a habit to never train in the same form more than once every 30 days.

There’s actually a new technique that has a different benefit than just maximizing your gains, and it’s called offset loading! You might have inadvertently done it when you were in the weight room putting on weights at the bar.

Have you ever accidentally put a 5lb weight plate on one end and a 2.5 on the other? Probably you tried lifting it and the weight just came right off. You probably got a stern talking to from the local gym bro about how this can lead to injury and so on.

While it’s true that it can lead to injury if you don’t know what you’re doing, what you accidentally did was actually called offset loading, and it’s not always a mistake. Offset loading is when you slightly offset one side of the load compared to the other side.

If you’re asking yourself why would you ever do that, then continue reading.

Non-Uniform Hypertrophy

Training using offset loading

Over the years, we’ve always gotten one question that’s asked way more times than it should be. It’s “Why is my left bicep bigger than my right one?” (or swap in biceps with any other muscle).

It would be easy to give you the standard answer and tell you that you can overcome this issue by doing unilateral movements, cables, or using dumbbells. However, that would just be addressing the side effects, not the main cause.

We’ve previously talked about the mind-muscle connection and we proved that there is indeed a direct connection between your mind and recruiting the muscle for any exercise. What you need to understand is that everyone has their asymmetries, including you.

Most people prefer using one side over another in an exercise, so if you’re doing a bench press with two arms, you might actually be favoring your right side over your left side. Your subconscious would manifest that to reality.

Offset loading corrects that. We’ve found out that when you’re benching, your dominant side has more activity than your less dominant side. So you might have more activity in your right side if you’re right-hand dominant than your left side. When you don’t offset, hypertrophy is non-uniform. What this means is that your right pec ends up bigger than your left pec–it grows a little bit more than the other and over time the difference in size becomes more noticeable.

However, when you offset the load slightly, the activation evens out on the left side. If you’re looking to do offset training, you need to follow the following steps and requirements.

How You Can Do Offset Loading

The first thing you need to keep in mind is that if you’re doing offset loading for the first time, a training partner is a must–this makes it much safer than training alone. Also, make sure you use barbell collars. If you’re not used to offset loading, chances are those weights are going to fly right off when you start your pump.

The next thing you need to keep in mind is that it’s always better to start off with one side only about 2.5-5 percent different in weight than the other side; so if you’re lifting 100 lbs, you may want to put 95 lbs on the other side.

Finally, you should only do offset loading in safe exercises, at least in the beginning. You might do barbell curls, or dual leg presses if you have access to the equipment. It might not be a great idea to offset load in high-risk exercises such as squats.

Keep in mind that when offset loading, always offset towards the side that’s smaller than the other, this shocks the body and forces the nervous system to acutely adapt at a much more rapid pace than normal training.

We hope this article helped shed some light to a different and novel way to unify your muscle size! We’ll see you again in the next article.

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